Beneficial Effects of Remote Working on the Environment
Everybody’s life has undergone several adjustments during the last two years. With time and changing circumstances, everything changed, including the way we live and how we work.
Working from home was not a very common practice in India. However, history has taught people to continue the practice of working remotely without business personnel watching them.
Due to lockdown procedures, several employees must work from home in 2020. At first glance, it could appear to be a better course of action due to the decreased usage of natural resources like time and energy.
The limitations imposed by pandemics resulted in many wonderful developments. Let’s learn more about the shift in working behaviour that comes with accepting remote work and how it affects the environment below.
Effect of Pandemic on Working Pattern
The pandemic brought about many developments. Instead of always following the same routine, people started paying more attention to their lifestyle, habits, and mental health. In addition to these fundamentals, the reduction in scope three emissions was a remarkable aspect of the lockdown effect.
Scope 3 emissions are those greenhouse gases that a company indirectly produces without being held liable for them. By reducing the emissions from business travel, internal operations, and other sources, the pandemic effect indirectly contributed to the decline in scope three emissions.
In Europe and the United States, transportation is responsible for around 25% and 28% of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, respectively. Tonnes of CO2 are released into the atmosphere less frequently when transportation is used less often. If 450,000 people in Switzerland continued to work from home following the Coronavirus, according to Daniela Friedli of Umweltarena, traffic would be cut by 1.3 billion kilometres annually, resulting in a reduction of 100,000 tonnes of CO2. And these things came very close to becoming true thanks to the restriction of covid-19.
We can’t exclude out decreases because of reduced capacity and the closure of some offices. Covid-19 health and safety rules forced HVAC (heating, ventilation, and cooling) systems to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to wash out any virus lurking in the offices.
Is Remote Working a Better Option for the Environment?
Many people have been inspired to reevaluate their earlier, more materialistic and consumerist lifestyles due to living simply in their homes. Is owning the newest gadgets or wearing the latest clothes truly necessary?
Consumer goods produce carbon emissions at every stage of their lives, including raw material extraction, processing, transportation, retail, and storage, as well as consumer use and disposal. We might not be as vulnerable to the purposeful obsolescence that is a feature of many commercial commodities, including clothing and many others.
Given the information above and the benefits of remote work, it is still preferable to carry on with this practice even after the epidemic and its constraints have passed.
While it is true that remote working gives its employees the assistance they need, it is also clear that not all jobs can be done so. Working remotely is only appropriate for certain people and requires the same level of commitment as other working arrangements.
Let’s first think about a few issues, such as how to carry on with the practice, the benefits of adhering to the work-from-home practice, the environmental advantages of remote working, and some other crucial issues, before fully endorsing the approach.
How to Continue Remote Working Without Affecting the Quality of Work and Environment?
- Keep the temperature comfortable for workers by adjusting it. Avoid overusing the heater or air conditioner.
- Paper printing of documents is not advised. You can print and digitally sign papers using some software.
- Hold virtual meetings rather than in-person ones.
- Cook your meals for the entire family at home to avoid wasting food.
- Try to maintain a working pattern irrespective of the place and other factors affecting the workplace.
Advantages of Remote Working
Nowadays, individuals often complain about how challenging it is to keep a healthy work-life balance. There isn’t much time left for the family after eight hours or more of work per day, including travel time and sleep. Working from home eliminates long commutes, giving for more time with family. Additionally, employees are free to wear anything they choose, even pyjamas, on days when they are not needed to participate in video meetings. Fewer stress results from a higher sense of comfort and improved work-life balance.
According to a Great Place to Work research, remote workers reported consistent or higher productivity when working from home instead of in an office. The pandemic’s peak months of April and May in 2020 saw the sharpest production gains. This was mainly brought about by the end of regular commutes and protracted in-person meetings.
Many factors contributing to delay are diminished or eliminated while working from home. Oversleeping, being stopped in traffic, and waiting in a big queue at the drive-through for your morning coffee are all eliminated variables. It saves time to get out of bed and get to work.
Reduced absenteeism and decreased turnover
Businesses may retain staff and reduce absences by allowing remote work. Remote workers are more likely to feel positive about the company’s leadership when they don’t feel micromanaged and think their boss trusts them. Employees won’t be as likely to be tempted to look for work elsewhere; as a result, fostering loyalty and dedication. Even if employees aren’t seeking new jobs, they could be less likely to make arbitrary absences from work.
Businesses can rent smaller office spaces or even relocate to a remote, cloud-based operation thanks to remote teams. As a result, companies spend less on rent, utilities, and other office supplies.
Employees that work remotely can do so from any location, not just their homes. There are now alternatives for coffee shops, beaches, and other nations. Organizations can even run operations beyond the usual 9 to 5 workday if asynchronous work is appropriate. Flexible work hours can be a blessing for workers who are night owls or have young children. This freedom is priceless for businesses wishing to extend their working hours with a small team. Additionally, it is a desirable perk that enables businesses to access a wider pool of candidates throughout the hiring process.
The incentive to improve workplace technology
When the epidemic started, businesses rushed to have the appropriate capabilities to support remote work. Many companies were employing out-of-date equipment, which made them improve their systems. Some firms at the time had already begun experimenting with telework and were better equipped to handle this problem. However, even they found it challenging to scale from a small number of workers with remote work capabilities to the entire workforce.
To replace outdated systems and manual office procedures, organizations needed business messengers, video conferencing platforms, time-tracking software, task management tools, and cloud services. Then, to safeguard these systems, they required VPNs and other cybersecurity solutions. Ultimately, this technological investment helped businesses become more competitive and integrated into the modern corporate environment.
Environmental Benefits of Remote Working
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
Working from home eliminates the commute, which saves time and money on transportation. Lower greenhouse gas emissions eventually result from fewer travellers. The amount of gas emitted will be significantly reduced if all employees begin working from home, even half the time each week.
The earth gets warmer due to greenhouse gases. The combustion of fossil fuels is the main human activity that results in the release of these gases. Hazardous pollution is produced by the amount of gasoline that is used by car engines.
The vehicles that emit transportation-related emissions are fossil fuel-burning automobiles, vans, employee minibuses, light-duty trucks, and SUVs.
Lower gas emissions equate to cleaner, healthier air. Vehicles are jam-packed in megacities. As pollution levels rise, more people cannot breathe clean air, which aggravates existing respiratory conditions like asthma or lung infections.
You might be shocked to learn that air pollution kills more people than diseases like the flu, HIV, TB, etc. One-third of the total nitrogen dioxide in the air is caused solely by vehicles on the highway.
Since remote employment will keep cars off the road, the environment will be cleaner and greener.
We frequently take many more printouts than necessary while working. While some documents can be read online in a soft copy, printing them out in the workplace is more common. We give economics more thought at home. Additionally, remote working is becoming more practical for managing flawless virtual events, meetings, and webinars thanks to the excellent virtual platforms currently on the market.
We share files online when working remotely through emails, Google Drive, or attachments. You would be shocked to learn that remote working may eliminate the usage of 247 trillion sheets of paper each year if you looked at the annual paper use.
Do you typically pick up breakfast, buy a packed lunch, or grab a cup of coffee on the way to work? You usually purchase these practically every day of the workweek when you commute to work. The total amount of plastic used has increased dramatically due to all the bottles, plastic utensils, food packaging, etc.
Home-based workers frequently use reusable supplies, significantly lowering their contribution to the plastic problem.
Reduced impact on infrastructure
Infrastructure maintenance costs decrease due to fewer automobiles on the road, fewer traffic bottlenecks, and lower pollution from gasoline-powered engines. Along the same lines, big offices use a lot of energy. As fewer employees work in workplaces, there will be fewer spaces to cool and light and fewer chairs to heat.
The transportation network cannot keep up with the growing demand for commuter automobiles in densely populated areas. Because of the heavy traffic during peak hours, the slow-moving cars use more gas and emit more greenhouse gases. Highways and streets are harmed by traffic, which raises the need for expansion and maintenance.
People are less environmentally aware of turning off lights, air conditioners, and laptops when they are at work. The successful remote-only businesses Airmeet, Automattic, Tumblr, and WooCommerce, are examples.
The inclination to shift from metros to rural areas
The main benefit of living in a big city is the availability of more lucrative job options. People must pay expensive rent and bear higher living expenses as a result.
People who choose WFH can relocate from heavily populated places to more tranquil suburban locations where they are likely to have the backing of their families. Small towns will benefit from a younger population, a more innovative workforce, and growth opportunities.
In addition, big cities will have more opportunities to go greener, become less dirty, and produce less trash. Due to deforestation, urbanization is the cause of 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Everyone’s quality of life is improved by such population decentralization.
Environmental dangers pose a severe threat to human life. To reduce them, a suitable plan and procedures are needed. However, a method that can entirely halt them has yet to be discovered.
Switching from traditional working patterns to remote working is a crucial strategy for enhancing the environment. The advantage of remote work and its impact on the environment have been discussed above.
Edited by Prakriti Arora